Monday, October 15, 2012

We're Getting Personal!

Getting a Little Personal

Hello UTSC!

Continuing from my last post, those of you thinking about grad school should start sharpening up your writing skills. Most applications will ask you for a personal statement, or letter of intent. This is your chance to eloquently prove to the administration that you deserve acceptance into their program.

“Oh hey…a personal what-now?? There’s more??”

Ohhh yeah there is! Your personal statement is an opportunity for you to go beyond the generic application form and stand out from the other candidates. It could be the deciding factor on whether you’re chosen above someone else.

“Wait, so...what do I dooooo????????

There’s a few simple steps!

1. Research your program of interest:
Know what the school is looking for. You cannot use 1 application for all of your schools. They must be unique! Research the institution and department to understand their vision, goals, and what they look for in their students. For thesis programs, include information about professors you may want to research with.

2. Know your strengths:
Talk about your strengths and how they fit in with the program. To begin, take a look at your resume, ask friends and family, and even discuss it with a professor or TA.

3. Brainstorm:
Reflect on what your life experiences. Don’t start editing your thoughts; just write down everything that comes to you. Some questions to consider include:
-       What made you want to continue your studies?
-       What plan do you have once you’re done with your studies?
-       What unique experiences can you bring to this area of study?
-       Why does this program appeal to you?

4. Write your first draft:
Write your first draft, and be real – don’t try to fill your statement with fluffy words you think the selection committee wants to hear. Be confident, focus on specific experiences, and take a break after you write your first draft.

5. Edit:
After a break, re-read your statement and think about these questions:
-       Did you answer the application questions?
-       Does it reflect you?
-       Is it a cliché?
-       Have you chosen the right experiences to highlight?

If you still feel lost, bring your personal statement draft to the AA&CC and schedule an appointment for a personal statement review. Come by early! Appointments are going fast.

Best wishes with your grad school dreams!


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